More LNG Spot Trading Expected

By Reuters 2015-09-10 21:08:00

CME Group said on Thursday it will begin development and clearing of a Japanese LNG contract later this year, as the world’s biggest importer of the fuel seeks to break a decade-long reliance on oil-linked pricing.

The contract aims to give importers, including power utilities and city-gas suppliers, an opportunity to hedge risks as Japan prepares to liberalize its power market next year, and could kickstart spot trading of the world’s fastest growing energy source.

The move could also deal a blow to Singapore’s ambitions to become a hub for LNG trading in the region. Already Asia’s main oil trading hub, Singapore is building LNG storage facilities, while the SGX Singapore stock exchange plans to launch LNG futures, but has given no timeframe.

Japan, which buys about a third of global LNG shipments, is trying to cut fuel costs and gain more control over prices after the shutdown of the country’s nuclear plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster pushed demand for gas to record levels.

With a wave of new supply from Australia and the United States due to hit global markets in coming years, buyers have voiced concern that an oil-linked price doesn’t reflect LNG market fundamentals.

The contract was initially launched last year, but has failed to gain traction, as the fuel is usually bought on long-term contracts with restricted shipping terms, while the spot market is illiquid and lacks transparency.

The relaunch with the backing of CME Group is aimed at kickstarting interest in the contract by making it easier for global players to take part, boosting liquidity.

LNG supply contracts have traditionally spanned decades and are based on the price of oil.

CME Group, the world’s largest futures exchange operator, said it will work with Japan’s RIM Intelligence, a provider of energy price and information services, on the non-deliverable forward LNG contract.

It will be available for submission to clearing by CME via the Japan OTC Exchange (JOE) and through over-the-counter brokers by the end of the year, CME Group said.


Vessel Records Should Go to New Owner

By MarEx 2015-09-10 18:03:11

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) is calling for vessel owners and technical managers to make records available that provide important information on the condition of the ship and its machinery when a ship changes owner.

“The current trend to remove these records has the potential to impact on the new owner’s ability to operate the vessel effectively on takeover,” says Helle Hammer, Chairman of IUMI’s Political Forum.

“Without continuity of information, it could be some months before the new crew and management are fully familiar with the vessel and machinery plant. During this time, there is an increased risk of machinery breakdown leading to inability or impairment to navigate, fire and explosion or personal injury from component failure. This, of course, affects the risk profile of the vessel,” she says.

A position paper, released by IUMI, states that non-transfer and destruction of records is commonplace and the organization questions why this practice is seemingly accepted by new owners. Failing to handover these important documents puts the incoming vessel managers, owners and underwriters at a serious disadvantage.

The position paper cites a number of reported incidents. In one case, a management company flew their fleet manager to the ship, specifically to go through all the maintenance records and remove everything they did not want the new owner to see.

In another case, insurance representatives were visiting on board during a change of management and arrived in time to see the outgoing managers removing all records. When those taking the records were asked to leave everything for the benefit of the new managers, they agreed.

IUMI believes that insurers are being exposed to claims that could be avoided if adequate maintenance records had been provided. It says that a significant improvement to the vessel’s risk profile would be achieved by requiring the maintenance records, operating reports, and spares inventory to be part of the permanent service history of the ship and covered by the regulatory regime, possibly through additional clauses in the sale and purchase agreement.

However, IUMI is not hopeful of achieving an early resolution to this ongoing issue despite having jointly (with the Joint Hull Committee) petitioned IACS with a suggested rule change to require the maintenance of ship records as a condition of classification.

The full position paper is available here.